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 BBC Music Magazine Choices, BBC Music Magazine - January 2020 Choices

BBCMM January 2020 Cream of the crop in the first issue of 2020 is John Butt’s recording of the original 1743 version of Handel’s Samson with Dunedin Consort and soloists including Joshua Ellicott as the fallen hero, Matthew Brook as his father Manoah, Sophie Bevan as Dalila, and her sister Mary as the Israelite Woman. Other feature recordings include a ‘revelatory’ Grieg recital from soprano Claire Booth and pianist Christopher Glynn, a selection of Russian fairy-tales from pianist Simon Trpčeski, and Polish countertenor Jakub Józef Orliński’s scintillating second album on Warner Classics, ‘Facce d’amore.

Recording of the Month

Joshua Ellicott, Sophie Bevan, Fflur Wyn, Mary Bevan, Jess Dandy, Hugo Hymas, Matthew Brook, Vitali Rozynko; Dunedin Consort, John Butt

'John Butt has created the best Samson ever...Above all, he’s beefed up the choir…These choral forces make for a vibrancy unique among Samson recordings…Butt’s deep grasp of both Handel’s rhetoric and of large-scale structure turns the work’s patchwork quality into a virtue, bringing intimacy to each character’s reflections and urgency to crowd reactions.'

Available Format: 3 CDs

Orchestral Choice

Lucas Blondeel (fortepiano), Le Concert d’Anvers, Bart Van Reyn

'Haydn’s wit is very much to the fore…Lucas Blondeel is the brilliant soloist, injecting the keyboard part with just the right amount of expressive freedom. He provides his own stylish cadenzas…Performances of all three works are lively and compelling and the recording is first-rate. Haydn-lovers should definitely indulge.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Concerto Choice

Emmanuel Pahud (flute), Münchner Rundfunkorchester, Ivan Repušić

'Pahud consistently delivers high-quality recordings with a twist…Dreamtime is similarly creative, programming a wide selection of concertos and concertante pieces themed around different experiences of that state…[In the Takemitsu] and elsewhere in the recording, the engineering achieves an awareness of the breath without marring the overall effect of the music…Penderecki’s Flute Concerto flutters and flies…The Munich Radio Orchestra handles the extremities in dynamics and textures well.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Opera Choice

Jakub Józef Orliński (countertenor), Il Pomo d’Oro, Maxim Emelyanychev

'The disc is a masterpiece of sleuthing and programming…Orliński vaunts an impressive technique: intonation, diction and breath-control are nigh flawless, and he breezes through the vocal fireworks. While his voice is intimate, its expressive range is ample…the revelations of this disc lie in the arias by Bononcini, Conti and Predieri…The whole sequence is simply captivating.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

Choral and Song Choice

Claire Booth (soprano), Christopher Glynn (piano)

'Edvard Grieg: Lyric Music’ is the perfect title, since the piano sings as much here on its own as it does when joining the voice…[Booth and Glynn] build a three-parter that makes this a very special recital…You’d think Booth’s bright, youthful soprano with its mix of fast vibrato and pure white notes would be best suited to the spring-like happiness of the early songs, but she turns into well-weighted tragedy too…Revelatory.’

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Chamber Choice

Trio Khnopff

'[The performance] has a real edge and encompasses the Trio’s troubled emotional trajectory, from the anguished declamatory recitatives of the ‘Poem’ to the brutal war machine of the ‘Toccata’ and the relentless fugal episode in the finale, with devastating impact…Romain Dhainaut and Stéphanie Salmin deliver an eloquent and poetic account of the First Cello Sonata. Violinist Sadie Fields also makes a strong impression.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC, Hi-Res+ FLAC

Instrumental Choice

Simon Trpčeski (piano)

'Trpčeski gilds [Tales of a Grandmother] with perfectly judged tone, matched by a recording which as full and lovely as any I’ve heard for a pianist as good as this…Though you sometimes miss the orchestral master’s allocation of instrumental solos [in Scheherazade], Trpčeski ‘conducts’ his own interpretation so magnificently towards a series of towering climaxes that you understand his special love for this music.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC

Jazz Choice

Kit Downes (piano/organ), Tom Challenger (tenor saxophone), Stian Westerhus (guitar), Lucy Railton (cello), Sebastian Rochford (drums)

'Downes follows 2018’s Obsidian album…with this quintet work of other-worldly beauty. Although largely improvised around pre-written themes (the pieces are named after galaxies), studio edits and overlays were used to heighten the sound’s celestial textures. Downes stays at the centre of the music and, while sax player Tom Challenger is never far away, the other players move in and out of orbit…It is jazz - but not as we know it.'

Available Formats: CD, MP3, FLAC, Hi-Res FLAC